In the second-floor studio of her light-filled cabin, Apayo Moore squints at her latest canvas, the paintbrush between her fingers flickering over the scene: verdant mountains, coursing rivers, a contented family sitting down to a meal. Beyond the artist’s window beckons Lake Aleknagik, where millions of sockeye salmon will soon return to spawn.
Fish are a near-constant motif in Moore’s work: beluga whales chasing salmon; fathers and daughters heading to sea on commercial boats; happy women carving strips of orange sockeye. Moore’s bucolic scenes give Bristol Bay an aesthetic identity. But they also make a powerful political statement: That Bristol Bay is too special to jeopardize by developing Pebble Mine, a proposed copper mine that would destroy salmon-producing streams and wetlands in the region’s headwaters.